02: History cont’d

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So the roles of men and women—including the extra value assigned to men’s productive work relative to women’s domestic work—are biological necessities. The biological realities of men and women also have consequences for Wilber beyond the nature and division of labor: they carry on through to the evolution and nature of consciousness. For example, because men are more focused on agency and less attached to social relationships than women, they have a greater ability to see the “bigger view” and reach more developed levels of consciousness. (Mansfield makes a similar point here claiming more men than women would choose the public domain—with its “bigger view”—even when it is available to both men and women.)

Furthermore, the disparity seen in the historical split between the public and private domain (and the roles assigned to both men and women) cannot be fully undone. Wilber argues that even when we transcend the more worldly limitations of the agricultural era and enter higher stages of consciousness, “given the unavoidable aspects of childbearing, a ‘parity’ in the public/private domain would be around 60–40 male/female.” We return again to the fact that it is biology that makes men and women what they are, and not only has this being going on throughout history, it will also continue in the future.

In sum, there are various things going on here about masculinity that are loosely shared by Mansfield and Wilber:

  • Masculinity (or manliness) is a particular thing that has been in place throughout most of human history.
  • Masculinity is defined by certain characteristics, whether aggression, confidence and command, or agency and ranking.
  • The characteristics that define masculinity have a biological basis.
  • The patrifocal nature of society (as demonstrated by the public–private domain) is derived from the natural characteristics and strengths of men, not men actively dominating society.



Written by Joseph Gelfer

June 5, 2010 at 11:24 am

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